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51s’ Castro finds his groove

After spending the winter in the Dominican Republic, left-hander Fabio Castro returned feeling like an improved pitcher. He’s starting to show it, too.

Castro was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire to Las Vegas on April 29, and he has thrown nothing but heat in May.

Castro tossed six scoreless innings in the 51s’ 9-1 victory over Sacramento on a hot Sunday at Cashman Field. He allowed three hits and one walk and struck out two while exhibiting pinpoint control of his fastball and curve.

“I went home to the Dominican and played Winter League to work on my command of my fastball and curveball, and this year I’ve been a lot better,” he said. “Last year, my location was a little bit ugly. I got my command back.”

Castro (1-0) has a 1.47 ERA in three starts for Las Vegas. In his two starts in May, he has allowed only five hits in 13 scoreless innings.

“He throws strikes and keeps the ball down,” said 51s manager Mike Basso, who lifted Castro after 98 pitches because of the heat. “He pitched well in Double A and his starts here have been very good, so hopefully he can continue to do that.”

Castro, 24, is 5 feet 8 inches and 180 pounds, but he has been a strikeout pitcher his whole career. The Chicago White Sox signed him as a free agent in 2001, and he made his major league debut with Texas in 2006. He also was called up twice by Philadelphia and has a 3.30 ERA in 30 major league games.

The Toronto Blue Jays acquired Castro from the Phillies in August.

The 51s (11-19) have won five of six after starting the season 6-18, because the offense, pitching and defense are finally clicking.

J.P. Arencibia hit a solo homer and went 4-for-5 with three RBIs. Buck Coats was 4-for-6 with two doubles and Brett Harper had two doubles and two RBIs.

“Everybody is starting to swing the bat a little bit now, knock on wood,” Basso said. “It’s what you hoped to see. We’re getting good at-bats, and we’re seeing good things come out of them. We still have a long way to go.”

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